Decades later, Maine woman adopts son from same orphanage she had been adopted from

Kate Russell had been adopted from South Korea when she was just four months old.
Published: Nov. 27, 2020 at 2:53 PM EST
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SCARBOROUGH, Maine (WABI) - November is National Adoption Awareness Month.

For many families, their adoption process was halted due to the pandemic.

That wasn’t the case though for one family in southern Maine.

“I’ve never been treated like I was separate from anyone in my family. Adoption was just kind part of my life story,” said Kate Russell who lives in Scarborough with her husband and three children.

Kate was just a sophomore at Colby College when she first visited her birth country of South Korea.

She had been adopted from there when she was just four months old.

This year, Justin and Kate adopted 2-year-old Harry from the same South Korean orphanage that Kate was adopted from when...

Posted by The Maine Children's Home for Little Wanderers on Monday, November 9, 2020

On her visit, she discovered more about the stigma surrounding unwedded mothers in Korea.

After some searching, Kate was able to find the orphanage from which she had been adopted.

Fast forward to 2019, her and her husband Justin, began their own adoption process, at the same orphanage.

With the help of the Maine Children’s Home for Little Wanderers in Waterville, the couple, along with their two biological children, were able to bring two-year-old Harry, home from South Korea, despite the pandemic.

“Just their story was so impactful and so full circle, and just really speaks to the heart of adoption,” said Lindsay Bragdon, Adoption Program Director at Maine Children’s Home for Little Wanderers.

Bragdon has been working for the home for more than a decade - helping families with adoptions from numerous different countries around the world.

Something, Kate and Justin are incredibly grateful for, despite the hurdles along the way.

“You get kind of anxious every step along the way because it’s a lot of hurry up and wait, but looking back, I think it could not have gone more smoothly,” Justin explained.

Their adoption was finalized over the summer.

“It was such a relief when we were altogether again,” Kate said.

Justin says that traveling to the other side of the world to meet his son Harry for the first time in South Korea was "...

Posted by The Maine Children's Home for Little Wanderers on Thursday, December 17, 2020

“We finally got back into the Portland Jetport, right? And, then like the two girls and Harry are sitting in the backseat and we’re like, this is the first time we’ve had three car seats and they’re all giggling in then back, and we’re like, okay, now it’s real,” said Justin.

As you can imagine, their home is very busy. But the couple wouldn’t have it any other way.

Kate says she is happy to have such a connection with Harry. She hopes to one day take him back to South Korea for a visit.

If you or someone you know is interested in the adoption process, there are plenty of resources out there to get you started.

Bragdon says the key is to be patient, and listen.

“Be there through the whole thing and know that I am here whenever needed to listen to you and to support that,” Bragdon explained.

The Maine Children’s Home for Little Wanderers has posted more about Kate and Justin’s adoption story on their blog.

While Kate and Justin Russell started their search for adoption agencies in early 2019, their plans to adopt from South...

Posted by The Maine Children's Home for Little Wanderers on Thursday, November 19, 2020

MCH also offers free adoption information meetings every month for those interested in learning about the adoption process. Due to the pandemic, those meetings are held virtually on the last Wednesday of every month.

To learn more, fill out their adoption informational meeting form, or call them at 873-6350.

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